Conseslus Kipruto, Leonard Bett and Kibiwott through to men's 3000m steeplechase finals as El Bakkali gets speedy start

Jul 15, 2022; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Soufiane El Bakkali (MAR) competes in the 3000 meter steeplechase heats during the World Athletics Championships Oregon 22 at Hayward Field. Mandatory Credit:USA TODAY Sports/ Reuters

Morocco's Olympic champion Soufiane El Bakkali got his bid for a first world title off to a strong start on Friday by producing the fastest time of the 3,000 metres steeplechase heats in Eugene, Oregon.

Trailing at the 2,000m mark, El Bakkali produced a late surge to come home in 8:16.65.

The 2019 bronze medallist will be joined in Monday's final by his fellow Doha podium finishers, reigning champion Conseslus Kipruto of Kenya (8:20.12) and silver medallist Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia (8:19.64).

Kenya’s Leonard Bett and his compatriot Abraham Kibiwott also made it to the men's 3000m steeplechase finals.

"The semi-final was really easy because the other athletes had some troubles to get through the hurdles, but not too easy either because of the heat," said El Bakkali. "I only have one goal for the final: winning the gold medal."

Rio silver medallist and home hope Evan Jager battled down the final metres and finished second to Ethiopian Hailemariyam Amare, drawing the biggest applause of the day as the first World Championships on U.S. soil got off to a subdued start.

Jager's 8:18.44 was good enough for a spot in the final, where he will be joined by compatriot Hillary Bor (8:20.18).

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